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BILLS HOPING TO BUILD ON POSITIVE PERFORMANCE

The heat is off the Buffalo Bills -- for a week anyway -- after returning from Jacksonville with their first win of the season.

While the Bills' 13-10 victory over the Jaguars on Thursday night was hardly a masterpiece, it was an effort that should provide a major confidence boost for a young football team.

"Yeah, we're young but we still want to win as bad as anybody," defensive end Erik Flowers said. "We needed this one. It was a great effort by everybody. Hopefully, this will be a springboard for a strong finish this season."

The Bills went into the Jacksonville game as a team at the crossroads. They just couldn't endure another loss, which would have extended the club's worst start in 16 years.

At 1-4, the Bills are far from contender status, but at least they finally have something positive to build on.

"A young team has to learn how to win," linebacker Keith Newman said. "The last few weeks have been frustrating, but I think getting this win lets us know that we're not a bad football team. But this is just a small step. We can't be satisfied. We still have a lot of work to do."

There were many positives that came out of Thursday's game. The most obvious was quarterback Rob Johnson, who had his best game of the year. He played with poise, purpose and managed the offense efficiently. The Bills also had their first game without a turnover.

Although the Bills moved the ball well all night, they still had just one touchdown and failed to convert on a couple of big scoring opportunities.

However, what the offense provided was enough, thanks to a terrific defensive performance.

The Jaguars were missing a key component to their offense with running back Fred Taylor injured, but they weren't devoid of talent.

The Bills, who entered the game with the NFL's 28th-ranked defense, rose to the challenge and held the Jaguars in check. Buffalo had four sacks, one shy of what it recorded in the first four games. The Bills also forced two turnovers, one more than their season's total.

The Bills limited Jacksonville to 247 yards, but the Jaguars were held to only 4 net yards in the first quarter and 69 overall in a scoreless first half.

It was the defense coach Gregg Williams envisioned when he came over from the Tennessee Titans.

"They wanted to give me the game ball, but I gave it to Gregg," Johnson said.

Williams gave his players and coaching staff Friday off, but they'll be back at work by the start of next week to prepare for the highly anticipated game against the Chargers in San Diego.

Some could use the break as the Bills' bad luck with injuries to the offensive line continued.

Starting right tackle Jonas Jennings had to leave the game after the Bills' first offensive series with a sprained foot. It is not known how bad the injury is, but Williams is expected to update Jennings' status next week.

Also, center Bill Conaty left the game briefly after dislocating his shoulder. Even though Conaty returned to the game after the team's medical staff reset it, his status is likely a concern.

Conaty injured the same right shoulder during the preseason and also had a problem with it earlier in his career.
e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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